The First Civilisation

Throughout history, we have seen many civilisations around the world and have learnt a little bit about their rise and fall. A civilisation is quite difficult to define; in fact, a lot of scientists today do not agree on the meaning! This is because, previously, the word ‘civilisation’ was used to tell the difference between communities which were ‘barbaric’, and those which were more ‘civilised’. Civilisations which were called barbaric were those belonging to people of colour: some African, Asian, and South American civilisations. Scientists do, however, agree on the many characteristics needed for something to be a civilisation.

What is a civilisation?

A civilisation must be made up of many people living together in big settlements, such as cities, a civilisation must have a system of agriculture, some form of organisation, such as laws and a government, and a civilisation must have a culture. These are only a few things communities have to have before they can be called a civilisation by scientists. Though it is hard to define exactly what a civilisation is, we know it refers to societies that are developed and have these features and more. A few major ancient civilisations in Africa were The Mali Empire, The Kingdom of Aksum in what we know today as Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia, and Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. 

The oldest fossil of a human being was discovered in South Africa, which makes a lot of scientists believe that Africa is the “birthplace” of civilisation and human beings. This means that human beings were first in Africa, creating communities, before some of them migrated to other parts of the world. Eventually they developed their own basic communities into civilisations like those we know of today. 


The oldest known civilisation is that of the Aboriginal Australians. These are the people who first inhabited Australia as we know it, and are believed to have first settled in Australia around 40,000 years ago! The first civilisations always settled around river valleys, where they had a source of water, rich, fertile soil to farm, and a form of transportation.  


It is important to know about past civilisations, because studying them allows us to see the progress and changes we have made as a society, as well as our achievements! It is also a way for us to understand how people in the past used to live, and how cultures differed globally. Ancient civilisations around the world had their own unique cultures, and by looking at these civilisations we can see how they lived and how different their lives were to the ones we lead today!  

We love learning about civilisation!